The Face in Barton Broad.
After picking up our boat from Stalham marina we headed down the winding river Ant. The sun was blazing hot so we pulled the sliding canopy back which opened up the front of the boat allowing us to appreciate more fully the beauty of our surroundings.
The river Ant opens up into Barton Broad after about 40 minutes travelling from Stalham and covers an area of 130 acres. It is foolhardy to stray too far from the recommended course through this tranquil place as it is quite shallow in places with many reeds which can cause a boat to run aground.
It is said that this lake is haunted by a lady, however she bears no evil intent compared to the other spirits found in these parts. If you have the good fortune to see her she will bring you good luck and if fishing you will be sure to catch plenty.
It was in september 1916 when a Flight Lieutenant Ronald Jacoby was flying over Barton Broad in a plane with an open cockpit when he happened to look down and saw the face of a beautiful woman covering many acres of the lake. He also stated that the face turned in his direction as he flew above it!
Jacoby had flown the plane from Pulham where he was stationed along with the rest of his squadron, however he kept quiet about what he had seen as he did not want to be ridiculed by the other pilots
The following day he flew over Barton Broad again and was fortunate to see the same vision of the ladys face in the mere. After this event Jacoby decided to take his squadron leader out with him on some pretext and flew over Barton Broad, he was relieved when he also was able to see the same vision in the lake which proved that he wasn’t hallucinating and some sort of phenomena was actually taking place.
Apparently the face cannot be seen above 600 feet or below 450 feet, it has to be somewhere in between these heights.
According to one of the few people aware of the story, a Joe Barnes, who unfortunately died long ago, he claimed that the story had been passed down through members of his family and is as follows: During the times of the Crusades a Lady gave birth to a beautiful baby girl while her husband who was a Knight was away fighting in the Holy lands. On his return from the fighting he refused to accept the baby as his own and the baby was sent away and brought up by another family, she grew up to be a stunning looking young lady unaware of her real parents.
To cut along story short the Knight had returned to the crusades and upon his return he fell in love with the beautiful young lady not realising it was his own daughter as he had not seen her since she was a baby, and was not aware of who had brought her up. However the young Lady spurred his advances as she was in love with someone else, this led to her Father the Knight confronting her fiancee and firing a crossbow bolt at him. The bolt missed him and accidently hit the woman that he was in love with (his daughter). The Fiancee broke the news to him that he had killed his own daughter, he was so broken hearted he returned to Palestine, but not before giving the Fiancee his property for trying to protect his daughter from himself!
From that time on at a certain time of the year the Lady Edythe’s face can be seen floating on the surface of the lake with her eyes closed as if sleeping.
Another version of the story is that the lovers try to escape in a boat on Barton Broad and the Father fires a bolt which causes the boat to sink whereupon they both drown. This explanation would explain why her ghost haunts this broad and was put forward by a local named as Willum Storer who claimed that the best time to see her face was early morning at sunrise, she then leaves the surface of the water and can be seen in the mist above the lake.
The vision has been seen by many over the years including the Bishop of Wentworth in 1781 who went on to write about the apparition in his poem Barton Broad.
For those of you who want to witness this phenomena it takes place on the early morning of the 5th of August, but conditions have to be just right, no wind blowing and a slowly rising mist to reflect her beauty!